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When the majority of channel partners were “resellers” they provided their manufacturer-partners with excellent promotion of their products serving as a highly effective sales and marketing arm.

Today, the cloud providers they partner with depend upon them for similar promotion. But channel partners need to remember to promote themselves!

In a recent article here in Channel Insider, we talked about the reseller shift from “push” to “pull” when it comes to IT products.

In that article we talked about how resellers used to be expected to push vendor-partner’s products to their customers. As they shifted to become service providers, that shifted to a strategy of pulling products through as enablers of the projects they were contracting to perform. We concluded that this shift didn’t end the relationships, but actually took much of the stress out of them. Partners simply replaced any margin they ever expected on products sales with high-margin production from the new services that still pulled the products through.

Impact on co-operative marketing

A major channel manufacturer once held a meeting with a group of their channel partners in which one of the questions they asked was how everyone felt about the collateral, the marketing materials they were providing to them.

One after another, the participants replied, “I hate them.”

Aghast, the vendor asked why they hated the marketing materials so much. The answer they received was, again, unanimous, “They’re all about you!”

They then explained that their customers were complaining about receiving the same materials over and over from each of them who had businesses near each other. Then the vendor asked, “Well, how can we make them better?”

A spokesman for the group explained that it was important to each of them to promote their own businesses, the quality of their services, their own value proposition. 

Market development funds (MDF) and co-operative marketing funds were helpful, but everything was really not valuable to them if they couldn’t promote themselves along with the vendor.

They ended up agreeing that the best possible outcome would be collateral products that could be customized, not just crash-imprinting logo and address on them, but really customizing the content to promote each partner and the value they could bring using the vendor’s products.

This turned out to be far more effective marketing than they had ever achieved. It turns out it was one thing to extol the speeds and feeds, features and benefits of products, but putting them into action by having the partners describe how valuable it was when they were actively deployed was much more impactful on customers. Now they could really see the value of what the products enabled, and the value of having it implemented by trustworthy and well-prepared local professionals. 

It really is all about you

Any product has no value until it is unboxed, installed, integrated, implemented, and put into service by a channel partner. You are the one who really activates, enables, and conveys value into every product you integrate.

Remember that when going to market. You may still have vendor-partners who haven’t received the wisdom this group conveyed. If your vendor-partners are not helping you promote you sit down with them and explain it to them. At the heart of any effective partnership is a mutual desire to benefit one another and help build each others’ profitability. This manifests itself best in the quest to go-to-market most effectively.

You invest heavily in learning your partners’ products. How to sell them. How to implement them. How to support them. Enlist them to help you get their products and services to market by getting you in front of more customers and letting you pull them through along with your services and your projects.